Sexual violence and harassment

Sexual violence is any kind of unwanted sexual activity, which does not always include physical contact.

Sexual misconduct covers a broad range of inappropriate and unwanted behaviours of a sexual nature. It covers all forms of sexual violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment.

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence can happen to anyone, regardless of their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, class or background. Sexual violence is any kind of unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature, which is intended to or has the effect of:

  • violating your dignity
  • making you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated
  • creating a hostile or offensive environment. 

It can be any kind of unwanted sexual activity, which does not always include physical contact. For example:

  • revenge porn
  • sending emails with a sexual content
  • making unwanted sexual comments or jokes
  • physical behaviour including unwanted sexual advances or touching
  • sexual abuse
  • rape

You don’t have to have previously objected to someone's behaviour for it to be considered unwanted.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any sexual touching that a person does not consent to. It involves all unwanted sexual contact including kissing, groping, rape and enforced sexual acts.

Anyone can be sexually assaulted, regardless of gender or sexuality. It does not matter if you have previously consented to sexual acts with that person, or with others. Whatever the circumstances, nobody has the right to force you to have sex or touch you without your consent. If this happens to you, it’s important to remember it’s not your fault.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual actions or behaviour by individuals or groups which violates a person’s dignity and creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Sexual harassment can be a single incident, or a string of persistent behaviour. You don't need to have objected to a certain kind of behaviour in the past for it to be unwanted and constitute harassment.

Get advice or make a report

Request wellbeing support

Contact us

If you need advice or would like to speak with a member of Student Resolution Services please email: srs-casework@bristol.ac.uk

Support available

Our team of male and female Sexual Violence Liaison Officers (SVLOs) have had specialist training to support and advise any student who has experienced any form of sexual violence. This service is available to all students, regardless of when or where the incident took place. When you request support, our wellbeing advisers will refer you to the right service, which may include our SVLO team.

Your SVLO will be led by you. They will listen to you and discuss the options available to you. They will:

  • help you decide what support you need going forward
  • help you access that support
  • provide you with information about possible next steps.

Some of the options may include:

  • referral to specialist external support agencies
  • referral to support within the university
  • practical support, including accommodation options
  • advice on possible reporting options, including to the police or the university.
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